06 May 2013

Who will be the next coach of the Nets?

After a topsy-turvy campaign that resulted in a disappointing first round loss to the Chicago Bulls, the Nets decided to not remove the interim tag from P.J. Carlesimo and they will look for a replacement of the fired Avery Johnson, who was axed in December. As expected, the Nets are going after high-profile candidates but who will end up with the job?

The first name on anybody's list is Phil Jackson and it has been reported that the team will reach out to the one-time Net. But while it is not entirely out of the question that he joins the organization, he will not be the coach. There is no reason for the top coach in league history, who can sit back and wait and choose for whatever job he wants (Lakers), to go to Brooklyn and deal with this talented but still-messy roster whose best player has the reputation of being a coach-killer. But as an astute reader can tell, I think there is a chance that Jackson could possibly join the front office, which he has shown interest in doing, perhaps more than coaching.

One rumored candidate that is not in the mix apparently is Jeff Van Gundy. Sources told the Daily News that there is a 98% chance the Nets don't even meet with the former Knicks and Rockets coach and current ESPN analyst and considering how unlikely Van Gundy is to take the job, with no real reason to leave a cushy job with ESPN, this development is not surprising.

Another top candidate that may be gaining some momentum is Jerry Sloan, whose name has come up as Williams has said that he would love to play for his former coach. That, of course, is ironic considering how Williams's poor relationship with Sloan is the reason why both were out of Salt Lake City within about two weeks back in February 2010. Considering that the moody Williams has to be on board with this hire, it helps Sloan's case were he to want the job and a Williams-Brook Lopez combo in Sloan's famed pick-and-roll is tantalizing to many.

One name that a couple of connected Nets reporters, Mike Vaccaro of the Post and Dave D'Alessandro of the Star-Ledger, have been playing up the possibility of the club making a play for Celtics coach Doc Rivers. Now before you all laugh, here is why it may not be so crazy, even as Rivers is still under contract and has stated that he does not want another job until his son, a junior, finishes high school. But as the team ponders blowing up the roster for a rebuilding job as the team fights the aging bug as well as the continual Rajon Rondo trade rumors, would Rivers want to stick around? And there is no question that the Nets would be willing to throw crates of cash at him were he to show any interest, but I would be very surprised if Rivers were to leave Boston for Brooklyn.

I did mention Jeff Van Gundy, why not his brother Stan? I have long been a big proponent of the elder Van Gundy brother and while I have not heard a whole lot of rumblings of the Nets targeting him, that could make him a great fit. He has a big personality that just may fit right in with an organization desperate to steal some of the spotlight from the Knicks. The one thing that could make him a risk or unlikely is that he would not take any of Williams's crap, just like he refused to deal with Dwight Howard's crap in Orlando, but he could also be the one to break through to him.

One lesser-spotlight candidate that the franchise has been granted permission to interview with is Pacers assistant Brian Shaw. One of the more highly respected assistants in the league, Shaw has been through many coaching searches but a lot of folks are surprised that he has not gotten a job yet. This, however, could be the one. Shaw has worked in a high pressure environment before with his many years in Los Angeles under Jackson, so he should be able to handle the New York market. Being a top assistant for a coach like Jackson is not a bad thing either, and I have an inkling that Shaw could be the guy that could break through with Williams. After all, he is a former point guard and not the micromanager that Avery Johnson was. If I were the Nets, Shaw has to be near the top of the list.

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